People start to lose their sense of humour when they enter world of work, study suggests

Research outlined in new book, ‘Humour, Seriously’

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 13 October 2020 10:05 BST
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People start to lose their sense of humour at the age of 23, new research suggests.

In a study conducted by two business school academics from Stanford University in California, it was revealed that the frequency at which people laugh or smile every day begins to plummet when they reach the age of 23.

The findings are published in the book Humour, Seriously, written by Jennifer Aaker, psychology professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Naomi Bagdonas, a lecturer at the university.

In the book, Aaker and Bagdonas outline the findings from a survey of 1.4 million people from 166 different countries that measured how many times they laughed or smiled a day.

The two researchers found that the average age at which people began to smile and laugh less was 23 years old, leading them to believe that entering the world of work could be to blame.

“We grow up, enter the workforce and suddenly become ‘serious and important people’, trading laughter for ties and pantsuits,” the authors write, according to The Times.

The issue with this, Aaker and Bagdonas claim, is that humour is “under-leveraged” in the working world and, when used correctly, can become a corporate “superpower”.

Both professors specialise in teaching their students how to use humour to their advantage in the workplace.

Their research found that the average four-year-old laughs up to 300 times per day, while the average 40-year-old laughs 300 times over the course of 10 weeks. 

“We teach some of the world’s most ambitious, smart, and caffeine-addled business minds how to use humour and levity to transform their future organisations and lives,” they write. 

“Our MBA students get the same amount of academic credit for our course about the power of humour as they do for Managerial Accounting and Financial Trading Strategies.

“Even if you’re not comfortable being funny yourself, as long as you understand the value of humour at work, you can benefit from it.”

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